BPO Music Director to Address Hilbert Class of 2012

Longtime volunteers to be honored for international humanitarian work
Release Date:
April 24, 2012
Matt Heidt,

HAMBURG, N.Y. -- JoAnn Falletta, music director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra who has been acclaimed by The New York Times as “one of the finest conductors of her generation,” will be the commencement speaker at Hilbert College’s 51st annual commencement ceremony taking place at 1 p.m. May 12 in the Wesleyan Church of Hamburg. Falletta will also be presented an honorary doctorate of humane letters.

In other distinguished honors, Hilbert College Medals, which are presented to those “who embody Franciscan values, demonstrate excellence in their profession or career, and excellence in community service,” will be presented to Dr. William and Dawn Maher in recognition of their humanitarian efforts for the impoverished people of the Dominican Republic through their volunteerism with the organization Jesse’s Children. The Hilbert College President’s Medal, one of the highest honors bestowed by the college, will also be formally announced at commencement.

JoAnn Falletta

Dr. William and Dawn Maher

Hilbert President Cynthia Zane, Ed.D., will confer bachelor of arts and bachelor of science degrees, as well as associate in applied science and associate in arts degrees to nearly 235 graduates in the Class of 2012. Baccalaureate graduates will receive degrees in accounting, business administration, computer security and information assurance, criminal justice, digital media and communication, English, forensic science/crime scene investigation, human services, liberal studies, paralegal studies, political science, psychology, and rehabilitation services. 
Marking her 13th season as BPO’s music director, Falletta has been credited with bringing the orchestra to a new level of national and international prominence. In 2009, for the first time in its history, the BPO won two Grammy awards for best classical performance and best classical composition for its CD “John Corigliano: Mr. Tambourine Man: Seven Poems of Bob Dylan; Three Hallucinations.”
Falletta, who also serves as music director of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra, has received many prestigious conducting awards, and she was honored in 2008 by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) with her 10th ASCAP Award. Most recently, she was appointed to serve as a member of the National Council on the Arts, the advisory body of the National Endowment for the Arts.
Hailed by ASCAP as a “leading force for the music of our time,” Falletta has introduced more than 400 works by American composers, including over 80 world premieres. She has also embarked on a multi-year recording project of the lost works of Marcel Tyberg, a brilliant Austrian composer and Holocaust victim.
What’s more, the JoAnn Falletta International Guitar Concerto Competition has brought international acclaim and attention to the classical guitar, the Buffalo region and the BPO.
A member of the Western New York Women’s Hall of Fame, Falletta has been named Buffalo and Erie County’s Artist of the Year, inducted into the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame, and earned a star on Norfolk’s Legends of Music Walk of Fame in recognition of her impact on the appreciation of classical music in Hampton Roads and Virginia.
Falletta received master’s and doctorate degrees from The Juilliard School and an undergraduate degree from the Mannes College of Music.
Hilbert College Medal recipients are Hamburg residents Dr. William Maher, a retired oral and maxillofacial surgeon, and his wife, Dawn, a surgical assistant and currently a client service manager at Scheff Thompson Cress Investment Group. 
For the past 25 years, the Mahers have been at the forefront of serving some of the poorest people in the Dominican Republic through health, economic and education outreach programs provided by Jesse’s Children. During their more than two decades of dedicated efforts, the Mahers have helped to build and support the Elizabeth Seton Nutrition Center for malnourished children, participated in airlifts of medical, hospital, dental, and hurricane relief supplies, and built wells to bring clean water to Dominicans, among many other life-changing projects.
Beyond this, over the past five years, in coordination with Hilbert Professor Daniel Roland, the Mahers have led the college’s Students In Free Enterprise (SIFE) members on volunteer missions to the Dominican Republic. Since this international service learning opportunity was established under the guidance of the Mahers, Hilbert SIFE members have coordinated and been actively involved in a number of community and business-oriented projects that have helped improve the lives of residents in some of the poorest regions of this island nation.
Top student awards that will be presented at Hilbert’s 51th commencement will include the:
  • John Kissel Man of the Year Award to an outstanding male student in recognition of his character, intellectual progress, organizational ability, and participation in activities and programs.
  • Kimberly Bruch Raczkowski Memorial Alumni Association Award for a graduate who reflects the spirit of Hilbert and its mission, and possesses strong leadership skills and demonstrates loyalty and dedication to others.
  • Lambert and Margaret Graham Award for a full-time returning adult student who has earned the highest cumulative quality point average.
  • Sister Mary Edwina Bogel Award to an outstanding female graduate in recognition of her character, intellectual achievement and devoted service to fellow students and the college.
Christopher Holoman, Ph.D., Hilbert provost and vice president for academic affairs, will serve as master of ceremonies for commencement exercises. The benediction and invocation will be given by Sister Sharon Goodremote, FSSJ, college board trustee.
A reception for graduates, guests and others in attendance will be hosted by Hilbert President Zane in the Wesleyan Church atrium immediately following the graduation program.


Hilbert College, located in suburban Hamburg, N.Y., south of Buffalo, is a private four-year college founded in 1957 in the Catholic Franciscan tradition. With nearly 1,100 students, Hilbert is a dynamic Western New York college that offers career-focused majors, including one of the top criminal justice programs in the region, and more than 50 minors and concentrations. The college’s engaging, student-centered campus community offers numerous leadership, internship, and service learning opportunities from which students launch successful careers while making positive changes in their communities. The Hilbert Blueprint promotes a well-rounded student experience over four years – starting with the Foundations Seminar in the freshman year, followed by Sophomore Service, Junior Symposium, and culminating with the Senior Capstone. Hilbert has expanded its academic offerings with the college’s first graduate programs and new Accelerated Degree Programs geared to adult learners.